I can’t complain too much. I work in a palace and have a beautiful view of the lake outside. I sit in an air-conditioned office and enjoy the people I work with. If I compare this to some of my Intelligence counter-parts, working in windowless basements on overcrowded military bases in the United States, I guess I’ve got it made. But there is a price to pay for this. It’s a price that continues to grow each day as more of my fellow soldiers are wounded or killed on the dusty streets here in Baghdad and other cities throughout Iraq.
To the United States government I am a tool. I am not much more than a single numerical digit on a broad list of troops who have been sent to the region. Some can claim that we were brain-washed into believing the reasons behind the war with Iraq. It was certainly a large pill to swallow, and the majority of us swallowed it with no hesitation. Saddam Hussein had fooled the world long enough. The UN inspections searching for weapons of mass destruction had failed and it was time for us to do something about it.
It seemed simple enough, even to someone such as me, who had access to a lot of the questionable information that was presented as proof that Iraq’s WMD program was still up and running. I saw the satellite pictures of “unusual” activity at suspected weapons storage sites. Was it enough to justify going to war and hundreds of US soldiers dying? Was it enough to justify my own life being sacrificed? I certainly thought so at the time. Saddam Hussein, the modern world’s most tyrannical leader, had to go - even though that was just the little picture.
The little picture is all they wanted us to see. There was no historic, spirit lifting speech by our commander prior to the onset of hostilities making us clearly understand why we were about to be launched into battle, so far away from home and our families. It was as if they didn’t want us to think about that too much. The reasons were almost like rumors that drifted from soldier to soldier – and no one questioned them. We were all focused on the capture of Baghdad and removing this horrible monster from power, not realizing that we were being sent to do it by another monster – a man with his own egotistical personal agenda.
[Photograph Removed]A candid shot of U.S. soldiers amongst the civilian population
If there is one thing I have learned from being married for over 11 years to a beautiful, yet dominant wife is that the truth always comes out. It may take a while for it to emerge, but it always seems to rear its ugly head – usually at the most inconvenient of times. The truth behind Bush’s reasons for sending us to war is now slowly emerging. One can almost see the calculations that President Bush made in the timing of this war that wound up backfiring on him. I suspect that he meant for the war to last quite a bit longer than it did, so that it would carry him all the way up to the election next year. It would, of course, have been a bad idea to change Presidents right in the middle of a war. He would have won the election without the need for a Florida recount. However, his plan didn’t work. Baghdad fell quicker than expected. The great battle on the outskirts of the ancient city between the coalition forces and the elite troops of the Iraqi Republican Guard didn’t occur.
In a matter of days, and with a minimal amount of rounds expended, Baghdad was ours. This left plenty of time between then and the election for people to wonder at the complete absence of chemical and biological weapons. There was too much time for the troops – who were in no small part responsible for Bush being elected President in the first place – to start to realize that our Commander in Chief may not have been completely honest with us. There was too much time for the truth to come out.
Oh I’m sure that they aren’t complaining, though. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are busy setting up their own financial futures by ensuring that companies that supported them win the bids for the reconstruction projects in Iraq. It won’t really matter that President Bush’s time in office is going to be shorter than he estimated with his chances for winning next year’s elections slipping as Retired General Wesley Clark’s popularity climbs. Their piece of the pie is soundly secured and the American people are more than likely going to let them have it.
So, here I sit, with my view of the lake, reading about the attacks and raids that continue day and night, knowing now that William Shakespeare should have included politicians with the lawyers in Henry VI (“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”). All I can do is reflect on the misdeeds that my countrymen have done and the support they gave Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. All I can do is pray that I make it out of here in one piece and without having to take the life of anyone else. For I feel the call to voice my opinion on issues such as the United States military being turned into mercenaries without their knowledge – I feel the call to help improve the relations between the United States and our Muslim brothers and sisters. It is time for my voice to be heard.
Patrick L. Wells
Staff Sergeant in the US Army
Originally Published on "JANA.ORG" - Sunday, November 2, 2003